KEY WEST OFFICIALLY LEAVES CHICKEN FEEDING

IIt’s official – cock-a-doodle don’t feed the chickens.

Key West officials made it illegal to feed the island’s wild chicken population on Feb.2. Whether the handout came from a 50-pound bag of food or a leftover french fry, it’s illegal.

The ordinance was passed unanimously and with little discussion at the meeting of the city commission. The new law, approved by the Florida Keys SPCA, makes exceptions for those who own chickens and keep them safely on private property.

“Unattended food used to feed poultry can attract insects, pests and rodents. and poultry in the city can cause a disruptive disorder, transmit and spread disease, destroy property and create copious amounts of feces on public property, ”the new regulation states. “The city has received complaints from its residents about people feeding poultry and the nuisance associated with it.”

The new law is enforced by code officers who must be called if someone witnesses a violation. The ban will take effect once the mayor signs the law this week.

Phone chat

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Commissioners decided that they would not need to be told in writing that they would not be allowed to use their cell phones during Commission meetings. Commissioner Sam Kaufman first proposed and then withdrew a resolution that would have prohibited commissioners from using their phones during meetings. Kaufman said he wanted to discuss the matter but was ready to withdraw the proposal if only backed by Mayor Teri Johnston, who insisted it was an ethical issue.

The commissioners recently attended an annual ethics course, which Johnston said specifically indicated that it was unethical for a commissioner to receive and read text messages or other communications during a public meeting as the information may not be broadcast or available to all commissioners are the public.

“The ethics class made it clear that we must not ingest communication that is not available to everyone during a meeting,” said Johnston. “I get text for text from staff and member groups during meetings. We even have the chat function for Zoom meetings. However, the ethics course states that we should not receive any communications that are not available to everyone. “

Johnston added that their concerns are a matter of transparency and public trust.

Commissioner Clayton Lopez pointed out that phones are now a common substitute for laptops or tablets and are consulted regularly for calendar planning, pertinent information relevant to a discussion, and other uses.

“I think this could be an unnecessary overreach,” said Lopez. “Reviewing our own notes on a phone is no different than having a laptop or tablet in front of us. We know that everything we talk on the phone must be made public. “

Commissioner Greg Davila agreed, saying: “The elimination of cell phones means eliminating a tool and affecting our decision-making ability,” he said. “Nobody text me during a meeting telling me how to vote. Besides, my mother was sick at some point. And I have kids so my phone is quiet but I won’t turn it off. “

“Madame Mayor, you called me during a meeting a few weeks ago because I was checking my phone,” said Lopez. “In reality, I was checking my calendar when we were making plans for a follow-up meeting.”

The commissioners also noted that they are aware that the content of their phones is public knowledge and that anyone can request the content that a commissioner has consulted during a public meeting.

Kaufman said he appreciated the discussion and then willingly withdrew the resolution. The commissioners encouraged the mayor to continue starting each meeting with a reminder, silencing phones and continuing to focus on city business.

Housing on the water

Lawmakers, city officials and planning professionals are focused and working quickly to reach consensus and re-plan to accommodate housing, retail space and other community development activities on the Truman Waterfront.

The undeveloped 3.2 hectares there have long been designated for the adjacent Bahama Village district. On February 2, city officials approved a zoning category for this space – Historic Neighborhood Commercial. Temporary housing is prohibited on these 3.2 hectares, and the density – or number of units allowed per hectare – has been increased to 40 units per hectare to allow affordable housing.

City administrator Greg Veliz told commissioners Tuesday that he had met with Scott Pridgen of AH Monroe and asked the Pridgen team, which has created more than 100 affordable housing units in the city, to come up with a preliminary plan for the waterfront property to design.

The plan will be presented to the Bahama Village Advisory Board, which was originally formed nearly 20 years ago to review plans and prioritize this waterfront property early on, and then to the city commission with numerous public meetings to provide input.

“But there has to be a moment when we make a decision,” Johnston said, reminding commissioners that these meetings and discussions have been going on without action for nearly two decades.

Veliz, who was not a city administrator in the previous talks, assured the commissioners: “We are trying to move this project forward and not let it run around for years,” he said.

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